How do picture frame styles affect spacing?

As a general rule of thumb we say 2 to 6 inches between frames is a good starting point for consistent spacing to make things look balanced in a grouping of pictures. However, the physical characteristics of the frame can have an influence on how much space you put in between them. Here are a few things to consider when hanging frames together.

two images of pictures with wide dark frames hung in a room - one has the spacing between the two frames done correctly - from 6 - 8" and the other is incorrect - they are hung too closely together.

Heavier frames can handle wider spacing 

It’s all about visual weight. Frames that are visually heavier can be hung further apart. Generally speaking, the thicker and/or darker the frame, the more visually heavy it appears. To give the frames a little more breathing room, hang them a little farther apart.

Two images with 3 narrow picture frames hung together. In one image the frame spacing is correct about 2 - 3" apart. In the other image the spacing between the frames is wide than this and is done incorrectly for a balanced look

Hang thinner or lighter frames closer together

Along the same lines, frames that are thinner or lighter in appearance can be hung a little closer together. Frames that are ½ inch or thinner tend to look best with 2-3 inches between them. 

image of 2 pictures and a round mirror hung on a wall with the correct spacing

Round items can be a little closer together as well

Because round or oval frames don’t have equal space all around them, they can be hung a little closer to items on each side, even if they have a thick or heavy frame. Hanging them too far away will make them appear disconnected.

 5 picture frames hung together on the wall. One frame has a wide ornate profile, so the spacing between it and the other frames are a little wider than normal to give the ornate frame more space to be seen.

Give ornate frames some space

In addition to the color and thickness of the frames, consider the style of the frame profile. Ornate frames with lots of visual interest can use a little extra space around the frame to help showcase the beauty of the frame as well as what’s in it.

Two images of 6 pictures with different profiles hung together. In one picture the layout is correct using the heaviest looking frame at the center. The other image shows the grouping hung with the heaviest frame to one side, which makes the grouping look out of balance.

With a mix of frame styles put the heaviest towards the middle

To make things look balanced, use the most visually heavy piece as the anchor point in the middle of your gallery. Then determine what spacing works well with that piece and use that as the standard spacing for the items around it. Keeping a consistent spacing throughout the gallery will help make it look cohesive and organized. Not sure what spacing will work best? Arrange the items on the floor first, you can try different spacings until you find one that appeals to you.

An image of 6 frames with the same size and profile hung above a bed. They are hung closer together than the normal 2 - 3" rule because they have a very thin frame.

Just a starting point

Remember, these rules are guidelines only. At the end of the day, whatever looks good to you is the right answer. Don’t be afraid to experiment with your hanging arrangement, or change them around when you need a new look.

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